Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Beatitudes from Slavery to Civil Rights

The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights is a compelling read with some great historical references. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford, this book unites the history of the Civil Rights movement with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12.)

The very first pages set the mood with Tim Ladwig's dark, beautiful watercolor illustrations. The text reads:

"I am the Lord your God.
I was with the Africans who were torn from the Motherland and cramped in holds of ships on the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas.
I heard them chant: Kum ba ya, kum ba ya."

In lighter colors, across the bottom of the page is imprinted:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The remainder of the book is written in the same format. This book is written in poetic (non-rhyming) language. Your child will read about those who founded African American churches, Harriet Tubman, the U.S. Colored troops, Booker T. Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Marian Anderson, Rosa Parks, the mother of Emmett Till, Martin Luther King Jr.,Ruby Bridges, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Barack Obama.

Throughout the text, the verses of the Beatitudes are written simultaneously.

What I Like: This is a powerfully written book with stirring illustrations by Tim Ladwig. This would be a great resource for teaching African American history, as there are so many significant people mentioned. I could see this book used as a stepping stone for more in depth research on each of the historical figures, and their roles in the civil rights movement.

What I Dislike: I found myself very confused by the application of these events to the Beatitudes. There are a few good applications mixed throughout, but the majority of the historical events just do not seem to fit with the verses they are matched with. For example, were the U.S. Colored Troops hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Perhaps some of them were. Were the "citizens who walked rather than ride buses during the boycott," necessarily peacemakers? I would like to stress that I don't have any problem with this book historically, but as a Christian book, I see some red flags.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: 9-12

Publisher Info: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010; ISBN:0802853528 ; Hardcover $16.99

Buy it Now at for $11.99.

OR Buy it at for $12.74.

Special Info: The King James Version is used in this book. Parents may also want to note that death is handled in this book. A mother weeps over the coffin of her son who was lynched. Also, parents who disagree with upholding our President as a spiritual example should note that he is one of the historical figures featured in this book.

If you are interested in finding out more about the author and the other books she has written, you can visit her website.

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Angela said...

Sounds interesting...

Kristi's Book Nook said...

This seems very interesting. I will have to check into it. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I wrote to you earlier about including books for black families, I don't know if you remember. This is just an example of what I'm talking about. It's hard to find good black literature for kids that uphold conservative christian value. The mixed messages you highlight are frustrating. I do appreciate the effort to include this book. It's sounds good as a reference to black history, the beatitudes are taken out of context sadly.

Proverbs Thirty One Woman said...

Mama, I do remember the comment you left on our survey...As we come across children's books targeting black kids, we'll always do our best to sort out those that uphold the Bible and those that don't.